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Stoptober: Can you kick your smoking habit?

Stoptober is a UK-wide event that encourages smokers to kick the habit by signing up to the 28-day challenge

Can you kick the habit this October?(Image: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images)

Stoptober is back from Thursday (October 1), and you could kick your habit of smoking by signing up to the 28-day challenge.

Signing up to Stoptober will mean you receive encouragement and support every step of the way.

How can Stoptober help me?

By signing up to Stoptober, and committing to stop smoking for 28 days, you are five times more likely to stop for good.

You get to choose from a range of free support services to help you quit, such as receiving daily emails and text messages from some of the nation’s biggest comedians including Bill Bailey, Rhod Gilbert, Al Murray and Shappi Khorsandi who have got on board to support Stoptober.

There is also an app which has lots of tips and advice to help you stay smokefree.

Why is Stoptober a good time to quit smoking?

It's the one time a year that there are thousands of other people taking part which can be really encouraging.

Fellow smokers in your family or friends can join with you and together you can kick the habit.

Research shows that smokers are 67% more likely to quit when their significant other stops smoking, and 36% more likely to quit when a close friend does, and 34% more likely when a work colleague stops too.

Where can I sign up?

Signing up is quick and easy, simply enter your details for free and get ready to start your 28-day journey.

While taking up Stoptober, the British Skin Foundation are asking you to raise money for skin disease research as it feels that while we are largely aware of the effects smoking has on our heart and lungs, we don’t know how damaging it can also be for our skin.

The foundation says that:

  • Both smoking and passive smoking can have a huge effect on the skin, causing it to age and wrinkle ahead of its time.
  • The danger is that the damage caused by smoking is not immediately apparent or visible.
  • The skin gets a lot of its elasticity from collagen. Smoking enhances an enzyme in the skin (matrix metalloproteinase-1) which degrades collagen, meaning the skin loses its elasticity and develops lines.
  • What’s more, smoking also causes blood vessels to constrict, limiting the amount of oxygen that can reach the skin. This lack of oxygen reduces production of collagen and elastin (which also gives the skin its structure) and negatively affects the skin’s health and appearance generally.
  • Besides premature ageing of the skin, smokers, particularly female smokers are more susceptible to what is known as ‘smoker’s acne’. Researchers writing in the British Journal of Dermatology observed that this specific form of acne was characterised by blocked pores and large blackheads but the spots themselves were less inflamed than ‘regular’ acne.
  • Psoriasis patients that quit smoking are likely to notice a positive effect on their condition.

So this Stoptober think about your skin too, give up smoking and raise a little cash for skin disease research!

The NHS' top 10 ways to help you quit smoking:

  1. Think positive - this time you’re going to kick the habit for good!
  2. Make a plan to quit smoking - Make a promise, set a date and stick to it. Don’t let your social life set you back.
  3. Change your diet - A US study revealed that some foods, including meat, make cigarettes more satisfying. Foods such as cheese, fruit and vegetables make cigarettes taste terrible.
  4. Change what you drink - The same study looking at drinks and found that fizzy drinks, alcohol, cola, tea and coffee all make cigarettes taste better. So when you’re out, drink more water and juice. Some people find that simply changing their drink, for example switching from wine to a vodka and tomato juice, affects their need to reach for a cigarette.
  5. Identify when you crave cigarettes - Cravings can last five minutes. Before you give up, make a list of five-minute strategies. Leave the party for a minute, dance or go to the bar. And think about this: the combination of smoking and drinking raises your risk of mouth cancer by 38 times.
  6. Get some quitting support - As mentioned above, trying to quit smoking can be more effective if a family member or friend joins you. Also, there are your local NHS stop smoking services and the NHS smoking helpline which is available on 0300 123 1044 (open Monday to Friday 9am-8pm, Saturday to Sunday 11am-4pm).
  7. Get moving - A review of scientific studies has proved that exercise (even a five-minute walk or stretch) cuts cravings and may help your brain to produce anti-craving chemicals.
  8. Make non-smoking friends - When you’re at a party, stick with the non-smokers.
  9. Keep your hands busy - Nicotine replacement therapy (which works by releasing nicotine steadily into your bloodstream at much lower levels than in a cigarette and without the tar and carbon monoxide) makes you twice as likely to succeed. You can get this in the form of skin patches, chewing gum, inhalators, tablets, strips and lozenges and nasal and mouth spray. You can also try putting a drink in the hand that usually holds a cigarette, or drink from a straw to keep your mouth busy.
  10. Make a list of reasons to quit - Keep reminding yourself why you gave up and read it when you need support.

For more top motivational tips on how to quit smoking, visit the NHS Stop Smoking website.

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